clear
Sunday February 14th, 2016 9:43AM

World's top diplomats to join Iran nuclear talks

By The Associated Press
GENEVA (AP) -- Four world powers are dispatching their top diplomats to Geneva on Friday to add their weight to negotiations aimed at putting initial limits on Iran's ability to make atomic weapons.

French, British and German foreign ministers are joining U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva, who will be coming "to help narrow differences in negotiations," according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

Negotiators were keeping details of their talks confidential. But Kerry, in comments to Israeli television, suggested Washington was looking for an Iranian commitment to stop any expansion of nuclear activities that could be used to make weapons as a first step. Tehran would be looking for significant relief from sanctions stifling its economy for such a concession.

`'We are asking them to step up and provide a complete freeze over where they are today," Kerry said Thursday.

Their decision to fly to Geneva comes after signs that global powers and Iran were close to a first-stage deal that would cap some of Iran's suspected nuclear programs in exchange for limited relief from economic sanctions. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov did not plan to attend. There was no word from Beijing on any plans by the Chinese foreign minister to join his colleagues.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the first to arrive, spoke of progress, but told reporters `'nothing is hard and fast yet."

"I've come to Geneva to take part in the negotiations because the talks are difficult but important for regional and international security," he said. "We are working to reach an accord which completes the first step to respond to Iran's nuclear program."

There has been no confirmation that an accord is within reach or details of possible elements of such a pact. But Israel is strongly critical of any deal that stops short of totally disabling Iran from making nuclear arms, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he `'utterly rejects" the `'bad deal" he said was in the making.

He spoke before meeting with Kerry in Jerusalem on Friday. "I understand the Iranians are walking around very satisfied in Geneva as well they should because they got everything and paid nothing," Netanyahu told reporters.

"They wanted relief of sanctions after years of grueling sanctions, they got that. They paid nothing because they are not reducing in any way their nuclear enrichment capability. So Iran got the deal of the century and the international community got a bad deal," Netanyahu said.

"Israel is not obliged by this agreement and Israel will do everything it needs to do to defend itself and defend the security of its people," he said. Israel has frequently dangled the prospect of military action against Iran should negotiations fail to reach the deal it seeks - a total shutdown of uranium enrichment and other nuclear programs Tehran says are peaceful but which could technically be turned toward weapons.

Even if an agreement is reached, it would only be the start of a long process to reduce Iran's potential nuclear threat, with no guarantee of ultimate success.

Still, an initial accord would mark a breakthrough after nearly a decade of mostly inconclusive talks focused on limiting, if not eliminating, Iranian atomic programs that could be turned from producing energy into making weapons.

Tehran's chief nuclear negotiator, Abbas Araghchi, told Iranian state TV on Thursday that the six - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - "clearly said that they accept the proposed framework by Iran." He later told CNN that he thinks negotiators at the table are now "ready to start drafting" an accord that outlines specific steps to be taken.

Though Araghchi described the negotiations as "very difficult," he told Iranian state TV that he expected agreement on details by Friday, the last scheduled round of the current talks.

The talks are primarily focused on the size and output of Iran's enrichment program, which can create both reactor fuel and weapons-grade material suitable for a nuclear bomb. Iran insists it is pursuing only nuclear energy, medical treatments and research, but the United States and its allies fear that Iran could turn this material into the fissile core of nuclear warheads.

President Barack Obama, in an interview with NBC on Thursday, described any sanctions relief as "modest" but said core sanctions against Iran would remain in place.

"Our job is not to trust the Iranians," Obama said. "Our job is to put in place mechanisms where we can verify what they're doing and not doing when it comes to their nuclear program."

International negotiators representing the six powers declined to comment on Araghchi's statement. Bur White House spokesman Jay Carney elaborated on what the U.S. calls a "first step" of a strategy meant to ultimately contain Iran's ability to use its nuclear program to make weapons.

An initial agreement would "address Iran's most advanced nuclear activities; increase transparency so Iran will not be able to use the cover of talks to advance its program; and create time and space as we negotiate a comprehensive agreement," Carney told reporters in Washington.

The six would consider "limited, targeted and reversible relief that does not affect our core sanctions," he said, alluding to penalties crippling Tehran's oil exports. If Iran reneges, said Carney, "the temporary, modest relief would be terminated, and we would be in a position to ratchet up the pressure even further by adding new sanctions."

He described any temporary, initial relief of sanctions as likely "more financial rather than technical." Diplomats have previously said initial sanction rollbacks could free Iranian funds in overseas accounts and allow trade in gold and petrochemicals.
© Copyright 2016 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 2 years ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 2 years ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 2 years ago )
U.S. News
Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
7:04PM ( 2 years ago )
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 2 years ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 2 years ago )
Local/State News
Feds announce test sites for drone aircraft
The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the march of the unmanned aircraft into U.S. skies.
2:23PM ( 2 years ago )
Congress letting 55 tax breaks expire at year end
In an almost annual ritual, Congress is letting a package of 55 popular tax breaks expire at the end of the year, creating uncertainty - once again - for millions of individuals and businesses.
2:21PM ( 2 years ago )
Feeling US snub, Saudis strengthen ties elsewhere
Increasingly vocal in its frustration over U.S. policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year.
4:34PM ( 2 years ago )
Politics
U.S, Cuba to resume commercial flights for 1st time in 50 years
The United States and Cuba will sign an agreement next week to resume commercial air traffic for the first time in five decades, starting the clock on dozens of new flights operating daily by next fall, U.S. officials said Friday.
By The Associated Press
9:35PM ( 1 day ago )
New details about the possible effects of the Zika virus on the fetal brain are emerging
WASHINGTON (AP) — New details about the possible effects of the Zika virus on the fetal brain emerged Wednesday as U.S. health officials say mosquito eradication here and abroad is key to protect preg...
6:22PM ( 3 days ago )
President Barack Obama is asking Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to help fight the Zika virus
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is asking Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus and the mosquitoes that spread it here and abroad, but says "there s...
10:40PM ( 5 days ago )
Search for Missouri couple wanted for crimes across the South, including Ga., ends with one suspect dead and the other wounded
A weeklong search for a Missouri couple wanted in a series of robberies and abductions across the South ended with one suspect dead and the other wounded Friday, after authorities say they chased the pair across the highway and through a rural neighborhood and exchanged gunfire with them in Florida's Panhandle.
By The Associated Press
9:57PM ( 1 week ago )
Cheap oil will be sticking around for a while, buoying consumers, frustrating oil producers
Cheap oil will be sticking around for a while.That reality is wreaking havoc and causing uncertainty for some governments and businesses, while creating financial windfalls for others. Less expensive...
6:18PM ( 1 week ago )